lost-souls-by-poppy-z-brite-650x970Poppy Z. Brite
Dell Publishing

At a club in Missing Mile, N. C., the children of the night gather, dressed in black, looking for acceptance. Among them are Ghost, who sees what others do not; Ann, longing for love; and Jason, whose real name is Nothing, newly awakened to an ancient, deathless truth about his father, and himself. Others are coming to Missing Mile tonight. Three beautiful, hip vagabonds — Molochai, Twig, and the seductive Zillah, whose eyes are as green as limes — are on their own lost journey, slaking their ancient thirst for blood, looking for supple young flesh. They find it in Nothing and Ann, leading them on a mad, illicit road trip south to New Orleans. Over miles of dark highway, Ghost pursues, his powers guiding him on a journey to reach his destiny, to save Ann from her new companions, to save Nothing from himself…

To many, these following words will seem like utter blasphemy: Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles are overrated. I’m not saying that they’re unreadable — far from it. I’m just saying, compared to Poppy Z. Brite’s vampire stories…well, overrated, and let’s leave it at that.

When she was a horror writer, Poppy Z. Brite had a style that really grabbed you by the huevos and draw you in, fascinated by the disturbing and haunting atmosphere, underscored by a dark romanticism. I think of her as the female Clive Barker.

Lost Souls, as the title of the novel, serves as a double meaning of sorts. On the one hand, we have the vampires and the humans who are empty, looking for meaning as the lost souls. On the other hand, Lost Souls is the name of the band Ghost and Steve, the two main protagonists, are comprised of (these two were previously featured in a couple of short stories collected in Wormwood). There’s a strong homosexual air in the story, which is really par for the course when it comes to Brite’s novels. It adds to the general foreboding and oppressive darkness of the tale. Overall, the book was creepy and captivating; a bit slow at times, but even then it’s used to build up the atmosphere to good effect. Pretty good payoff at the end, methinks. Not your usual vampire tale. Recommended…